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Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know (Hardcover)


Review
"Discover why your dog is so sensitive to your emotions, gaze, and body language. Dogs live in a world of ever-changing intricate detail of smell. Read this captivating book and enter the sensory world of your dog." -- Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation and Animals Make Us Human

"Inside of a Dog is a most welcome authoritative, personal, and witty book about what it is like to be a dog. This engaging volume serves as a corrective to the many myths that circulate about just who our canine companions are. I hope this book enjoys the wide readership it deserves." -- Marc Bekoff, author of The Emotional Lives of Animals and Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals (with Jessica Pierce)

Product Description
What do dogs know? How do they think? The answers will surprise and delight you as Alexandra Horowitz, a cognitive scientist, explains how dogs perceive their daily worlds, each other, and that other quirky animal, the human.
Inside of a Dog is a fresh look at the world of dogs -- from the dog's point of view. As a dog owner, Horowitz is naturally curious to learn what her dog thinks about and knows. And as a scientist, she is intent on understanding the minds of animals who cannot speak for themselves.

In clear, crisp prose, Horowitz introduces the reader to dogs' perceptual and cognitive abilities and then draws a picture of what it might be like to be a dog. What's it like to be able to smell not just every bit of open food in the house but also to smell sadness in humans or even the passage of time? How does a tiny dog manage to play successfully with a Great Dane? What is it like to hear the bodily vibrations of insects or the hum of a fluorescent light? Why must a person on a bicycle be chased? What's it like to use your mouth as a hand? In short, what is it like for a dog to experience life from two feet off the ground, amidst the smells of the sidewalk, gazing at our ankles or knees?

Inside of a Dog explains these things and much more. The answers can be surprising -- once we set aside our natural inclination to anthropomorphize dogs. Inside of a Dog also contains up-to-the-minute research -- on dogs' detection of disease, the secrets of their tails, and their skill at reading our attention -- that Horowitz puts into useful context. Although not a formal training guide, Inside of a Dog has practical application for dog lovers interested in understanding why their dogs do what they do.

The relationship between dogs and humans is arguably the most fascinating animal-human bond because dogs evolved from wild creatures to become our companions, an adaptation that changed their bodies, brains, and behavior. Yet dogs always remain animals, familiar but mysterious. With a light touch and the weight of science behind her, Alexandra Horowitz examines the animal we think we know best but may actually understand the least. This book is as close as you can get to knowing about dogs without being a dog yourself.

Best Dog Book Ever, September 17, 2009
By Ettore Schmitz


As an avid reader of dog literature I approach each new entry in this field with a mix of trepidation and eagerness. Will it merely be a rehash of things I already know? Will it be a sophmoric jumble of memoir and whimsy? Or will this be the book that truly broadens my understanding of the world of canids? Inside of a Dog falls into the last category - plus some.
This book is hands down the finest exploration of canid intelligence that I have ever read. Horowitz writes with a crisp, almost puckish tone - it draws the reader in effortlessly. The book is a delightful blend of an examination of the latest developments in the world of scientific study of dog cognition, and Horowitz's own experiences with her dog as she became one of the scientists who study this animal.
She is one of those writers of whom you think that they could make anything seem interesting. It is to our benefit that she has chosen to do this with dogs.

It's good, but not fantastic. Not many spoilers in this review., September 17, 2009
By M. Carterette (Oakland, CA)


After having read this book weeks ago (advanced copy), I was left a little unsatisfied. I'd give it 3.5 stars if could.

It's more of a cursory glance at canine cognitive ethology rather than a definitive volume, but if you're looking for a good introductory to canine cognitive ethology, this would be a great starter. The anecdotes are sweet and the science is pretty good, and written in a way that the regular Joe Dog Guardian can read it without breaking his brain.

HOWEVER. There is one VERY glaring "scientific" experiment that I feel she used for a bad conclusion, a conclusion whose inclusion of the flawed scientific experiment betrays the entire premise of the book itself.

In the section on "Hero Dogs" (dogs that have responded to emergencies and saved the lives of their owners and people in general), Horowitz details what she calls a "clever experiment" with dogs where

"owners conspired with the researchers to feign emergencies in the presence of their dogs, in order to see how the dogs responded. In one scenario, owners were trained to fake a heart attack, complete with gasping, a clutch of the chest, and a dramatic collapse. In the second scenario, owners yelped as a bookcase (made of particleboard) descended on them and seemed to pin them on the ground. In both cases, owners' dogs were present, and the dogs had been introduced to a bystander nearby--perhaps a good person to inform if there has been an emergency.

In these contrived setups, the dogs acted with interest and devotion, but not as though there was an emergency...

...In other words, not a single dog did anything that remotely helped their owners out of the predicaments. The conclusion that one has to take from this is that dogs simply do not naturally recognize or react to an emergency situation--one that could lead to danger or death." (pp.239-240)

I really don't understand how she could have come to this conclusion after having written over 200 pages on how a dog sees, smells and relates to its world (the "umwelt" of a dog). She didn't consider that the dogs knew that their owners were faking? She wrote herself that a dog can sense the most minute changes in a person's own body chemistry, right down to sensing cancer and other things like an increase in heart rate or adrenaline. A person faking a heart attack isn't going to have the same body chemistry/physical changes that a person having a REAL heart attack is going to have, so in a sense--there is no faking a heart attack around your dog (believe me, I've tried, LOL--it was only playing/testing, but none of my dogs seemed to care if I plopped over in bed, "dead"). Same goes for adrenaline levels when you're in immediate danger, like when you're drowning (and I believe this was one of the examples she used just before this horrible "deduction" of hers; a dog saved the life of a child that was going to drown). And if a person was faking being hurt under a particleboard bookcase, I'm pretty sure that the dog could sense that, too.

Anyway. That was the only part of the book that REALLY got me going "Hmmmnnn...no." Other than that, it's a good read, but left me wanting more (a whole lot of it sucks you in, but then you're left with a little bit of an unsatisfied thirst for more science and more talk about how dogs are in the world; the end chapter seemed a little rushed to me, too).

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